Book Review: Leviathan

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
Illustrated by Keith Thompson
Published by Simon Pulse
Release Date: October 6, 2009
Source: Library

I have to admit that when I first heard of this book around its original release date I wasn't clamoring to read it. In the past I had read Scott Westerfeld's work and really liked his style, but the concept of this book just didn't grab me. I kept finding other books to keep my mind occupied. In my mind, I was convinced that this had to be a guy book and would bore me to tears. Even as someone who loves history I just couldn't bring myself to crack this one open. Now I am prepared to eat those words....

Our readers will soon learn that I have an extremely long commute. I am generally in the car for 2-3 hours each day driving to and from work. What's a girl to do with that much alone time on crowded highways? Listen to audiobooks, of course. This was the perfect time to get some of the books from my To Read pile out of the way and add some others that I might not have read otherwise. Leviathan's moment to shine and hold my attention came a few weeks ago when I found it upon the shelf in one of my weekly audiobook hunts in the stacks of the library. I'll admit that one of the main reasons I chose to give it a listen is that Alan Cummings was the narrator. I love him! I am bummed that I missed out on all the cool artwork this way though.

Regardless of how Leviathan and I came together - I am glad we finally did. This was a total "Don't Judge a Book by its Cover" moment for me. I was kicking myself for waiting so long. (FYI - I didn't do that with Behemoth - Book #2 - it is up to be listen to very soon!)

Leviathan drew me into a world of revisionist history to view the events of World War One in a whole new light. The world is being split into two camps as war emerges on the horizon. The whole idea of Clankers vs. Darwinists was fascinating to me. The Central Powers are all Clanker nations, building huge mechanical war machines with a very steampunk like edge to them. Meanwhile, the Allies, have created living war machines by using Darwin's principals to create super beasts. The Leviathan is actually an airship that is much like a whale, but much more highly sophisticated. The world that Scott Westerfeld has created in this series is one that I love to imagine. His creativity is fresh and original. I loved the symbolism of science vs. technology that was laced throughout the pages.

Also, as someone who isn't always a fan of male narrators, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Leviathan follows two main characters and alternates between their voices and perspectives. Alek and Deryn are both amazing characters. Scott Westerfeld did an amazing job of breathing life into them. I didn't expect to care about them, but I was frustrated when the last word was spoken. It ends on such a cliff hanger! I want to know what's in those stupid boxes and if Deryn's secret will ever come to light.

I highly recommend giving this series a whirl.

For those of you who have read it, I must ask:
Team Clanker OR Team Darwin? Leave a comment and let me know your thoughts.

Summary from Author's Website - check out the website to hear chapter one read by Alan Cummings:

Prince Aleksander, would-be heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, is on the run. His own people have turned on him. His title is worthless. All he has is a battletorn war machine and a loyal crew of men.

Deryn Sharp is a commoner, disguised as a boy in the British Air Service. She’s a brilliant airman. But her secret is in constant danger of being discovered.
With World War I brewing, Alek and Deryn’s paths cross in the most unexpected way…taking them on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure that will change both their lives forever.

You can also read chapter one at Simon and Schuster's site.